The Grace Hill training tip of the week continues the focus on the confusing issue of service animals, assistance animals and emotional support animals.
By now you’ve probably figured out that complying with assistance animal requests is confusing and difficult.
One of the situations that many people find particularly confusing is when there are multiple animals involved and an apartment complex that may have a one-pet rule.
- Can residents have more than one assistance animal?
- Can residents have pets and assistance animals?
Can a resident have more than one service animal or assistance animal?
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) do not limit the number of assistance animals one person can have.
Consider these service animal and assistance animals scenarios:
- A person with a visual disability and a seizure disorder may use a guide dog to get around and another animal to be alerted to oncoming seizures
- A person might need two assistance animals for the same task, such as two dogs for stability when walking
If a resident requests multiple animals, you may request documentation to show that each animal provides disability-related assistance or emotional support.
Remember that you can only request documentation for the animals where the disability-related need is not obvious or known to you.
What if I have a one-pet policy and a resident with a pet requests a service animal or assistance animal, too?
If a person with a disability has a pet and makes a reasonable accommodation request to have an assistance animal too, you cannot deny the request just because of your one-pet policy.
Remember, assistance animals are not pets.
If the number of animals requested becomes unreasonable or you think it presents an undue hardship to your community, consult with your legal counsel to see if you can legally deny the request.
Open communication with residents is best solution
Remember, evaluating a reasonable accommodation request should be an individualized process with an ongoing dialog between you and the resident.
Often people file discrimination claims because they don’t feel heard, don’t understand the process, or aren’t kept in the loop.
Don’t underestimate the importance of good communication as you navigate these complicated issues.
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About the author:
Ellen Clark is the Director of Assessment at Grace Hill. Her work has spanned the entire learner lifecycle, from elementary school through professional education. She spent over 10 years working with K12 Inc.’s network of online charter schools – measuring learning, developing learning improvement plans using evidence-based strategies, and conducting learning studies. Later, at Kaplan Inc., she worked in the vocational education and job training divisions, improving online, blended and face-to-face training programs, and working directly with business leadership and trainers to improve learner outcomes and job performance. Ellen lives and works in Maryland, where she was born and raised.
About Grace Hill
For nearly two decades, Grace Hill has been developing best-in-class online training courseware and administration solely for the Property Management Industry, designed to help people, teams and companies improve performance and reduce risk.
Capt. Robert Baldwin and 1st Lt. Gregory Caliwag, 88th Medical Center clinical nurses pet Bailey, a pet therapy dog from the Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association on July 21, 2017. Pet therapy dogs visit the medical center seven days a week to provide comfort to patients and staff members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Stacey Geiger) via creative commons.